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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp

12 November 2003

"Scientific" Whalers Defy International Opinion - Again

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today expressed his grave disappointment as Japan's whaling fleet set sail for another summer of lethal "research" in Antarctica.

It has been reported that a five-vessel fleet has left port on a six-month trip to waters to the south-west of Australia where they plan to kill up to 440 minke whales.

"This massive whaling operation defies international opinion and while conducted under the guise of science, has no scientific justification," Dr Kemp said.

"Australia is absolutely opposed to any description of commercial whaling, including so-called "scientific-whaling".

"At this year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), I introduced a motion which called for Japan to stop issuing permits to take whales from the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and to embrace non-lethal techniques instead.

"Australia's Resolution passed with a clear majority, which made it abundantly clear that these whalers do not have the support of the international community."

The IWC met in July 2003 and:

"There are non-lethal techniques available which provide more reliable information on the diets of
whales," Dr Kemp said.

"This summer a model of international cooperation on non-lethal research will pass through Australian waters. International crews aboard vessels provided by the Government of Japan will use solely non-lethal techniques to complete the IWC's Southern Ocean and Whale Ecosystem Research (SOWER) Circumpolar Cruise. This will continue to investigate the unresolved questions about the status of Southern Hemisphere minke whales.

"The Australian Government welcomes the involvement of scientists from Japan and other countries in non-lethal research, and the SOWER vessels will be welcomed next month in Hobart when they stop to re-supply en route."

Dr Kemp said the Australian Government will continue to argue for the exclusive use of non-lethal techniques as well as the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and a permanent end to commercial whaling at the next meeting of the IWC in Sorrento, Italy, in July 2004.

"Australia has a good relationship with Japan over most environment programmes, but whale protection is one issue on which we differ," he said.

Commonwealth of Australia